Kathy Griffin and civil-rights lawyer Lisa Bloom came for Donald Trump Friday.
"I’m not afraid of Trump," the 56-year-old comedian said. "He’s a bully. I’ve dealt with older white guys trying to keep me down my whole career."
At a press conference, Griffin and Bloom addressed what they both view as a disproportionate response by the president and his family after she posed with a fake, severed Trump head for photographer Tyler Shields.
Bloom said Griffin never imagined it could be misinterpreted as a threat of violence against Trump. "That was never what she intended."
Those photos, Bloom said, were meant to be a parody of Trump's infamous "blood-blood-coming-out-of-her-whatever" comments about then-Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, who raised the question of his past misogynistic remarks at a presidential debate in August.
"She captioned it, 'There was blood coming out of his wherever.' It was a parody of Trump's own sexist remarks taken to an extreme, absurdist visual." Bloom noted that Griffin has a "first amendment right to publicly parody the president."
The attorney continued, "The Supreme Court has ruled in a series of longstanding, bedrock cases that political satire is protected. The government cannot retaliate against citizens for it. That's an important legal right that is now under attack, as journalists, networks and artists fear retribution from Trump and his administration. He is hoping for a chilling effect on artists like Kathy."
The president, she said, "took a break from his busy schedule of tweeting nonsense words to target her satire, calling her 'sick.' Melania Trump, who has remained silent about her husband's effort to deny health care to 24 million Americans, cut Meals on Wheels and Planned Parenthood, chose to break her silence on news events to personally challenge Kathy's mental health. Donald Trump Jr. took a break from killing leopards and elephants to hound CNN and its anchors on Twitter to try to get them, not just to fire her, but to ban her from the network entirely."
The message is clear, says Bloom: "Criticize the president, lose your job."
Although she is not retracting her apology, Griffin is defending herself because, “if you don’t stand up, you get run over. What is happening to me has never happened in the history of this great country. A sitting president of the United States, his grown children and the first lady are personally, I feel, are trying to ruin my life forever.”
"You guys know him," she said. "I know him. He's never going to stop."
In addition to losing her New Year's TV gig on CNN, an endorsement and several stand-up comedy performances, Griffin has received "detailed, specific" death threats and is under investigation by the United States Secret Service, which her criminal attorney, Dmitry Gorin, expects will be resolved in her favor.
She called her dismissal from CNN after 10 years "hurtful," and Bloom noted that Larry King, a longtime employee of the network, had commented that Ted Turner would never have fired Griffin.
The comedian's hands shook, her voice occasionally became choked and she fought back tears as she discussed the emotional impact of the last week.
"He broke me and then I was like, 'No, this isn’t right'. I apologized because it was the right thing to do. Then it became a mob mentality pile-on."
Bloom says Griffin is not in a fair fight and wouldn't have been treated this way if she were a man. She noted that Marilyn Manson beheaded a Trump stand-in in a music video and never apologized like her client did.
"Unlike these male artists, Kathy has endured the most powerful man in America and his family using their power to target her and her employers after she apologized," the attorney pointed out.
The biggest difference between Trump's myriad other public quarrels and this one?
"He’s not just Donald Trump, real estate developer, having a celebrity feud," Bloom said. "He’s using the power of the government."
Griffin gradually regained her composure, proclaiming, "He wants to mess with me? He picked the wrong redhead!"
And anyone who thinks she's done mocking Trump is mistaken.
"Kathy has made a decision," Bloom said. "She is not going to stop speaking out for women, LGBT rights, vets and others. She will continue to be the fierce, brutally honest "she-ro" that millions love. She will continue to push the edges of our comfort level, to challenge us and make us think."
Plus, as Griffin reminded reporters, "I’m not good at being appropriate. I’m going to make fun of him more now."
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